Sunday, September 30, 2012

SACRED Art Show... Kimberly Dwinell!

I'm so excited to share another beautiful SACRED-inspired artwork, this one by fellow Long Beachian Kimberly Dwinell.

I got to ask Kim about her process and her life in general, and here is what she shared:

E: I so love the composition of this picture. Tell me, how did you decide on this angle?

K: I loved the thought of a girl riding up to a house on a horse; it was such a poignant scene in the book. What girl wouldn’t love to do that? I did some initial sketches from my head and showed them to my studio group. They gave me some great feedback- that the streets in Catalina would all be build on hills, so I angled the sidewalk to show that. I wanted her to look tentative, and I knew I wanted a physical barrier between her and the door.
Here are some shots of the piece in process:

I went around Seal Beach looking for the perfect house, which brings me to question 2!
E: Is the house in the picture modeled on an actual house? If so, how did you decide on it?
K: I like to walk and run in Seal Beach, and that’s when I do my best creative thinking. I tried to imagine what kind of house an intellectual man and his son would rent as a getaway… it had to have charm, cool plants, be a little funky. I didn’t want it to look perfectly manicured but not run down, and it had to have comfortable places for sitting outside and reading. I took pictures of three different houses, and this one won out. I think it was the staghorn fern and the tree. I’m definitely a bit of a plant geek.
E: You mention that you tried a new technique with this piece. Tell me about it.
K: I love Tony DiTerlizzi and have been drooling over his illustrations in the SpiderwickChronicles. Such amazing linework, and done so masterfully in nib pen. He, in turn, thanked Arthur Rackham in the book dedication for being his inspiration. I had artwork from both artists on my desk as I was inking and I was very inspired by both of them. However, when I started to think about color, I knew I didn’t want to try to be too realistic and plan out a lighting scheme with watercolor like I normally do; I wanted to be a little more playful. I wanted to use chunky blocks of color and to make it look like rough offset printing. I’m happy with the result, and also amazed at how easy it is to change things when it’s digital!
E: Tell us about when and where you work.
K: Here’s the schedule on a perfect day. Up at 6:30, coffee in hand. Morning panic ensues, boy to school, man to work. Grab the dog, head out for a run. Come home, deep breath, head down at the desk and blast out a few hours of work. I then realize I should shower before I see anyone. Smelling better, I get a few more hours of work done before the boy is home from middle school. I work in an office in my house that adjoins the sunroom. It always seems to be a mess but the chaos is organized chaos. That’s what I keep telling myself, at least. It’s a great space but I live with the normal work-at-home issues like laundry and dishes, and a dog who endlessly wants to play ball.
The drawing desk in the office

The view to the sunroom
E: Do you have a preferred medium?
K: I love pen and ink and I love watercolor. Sometimes I’ll add colored pencils over my watercolors. I’ve been working on a project in this medium for a while, and I find that to keep myself fresh and not bored I have to break out every so often and experiment. I had a fun artist playdate at my house a couple of months ago and did collage with corrugated cardboard, torn paper and Sharpie marker.  I’ll always go back to ink and watercolor, but I would like to pursue this digital collage color a little more.
E: I know you are involved in an interesting project of your own. What can you share?
K: It’s a project really close to my heart- a graphic novel in watercolor about a surfer girl whose life changes for the weird after she swims through a cave. It’s goofy and fun and my protagonist is like the daughter I never had. I am fortunate enough to have a very supportive agent who will be taking it out into the wide world to look for a home in October. Fingers crossed!
E: What advice would you give people who’d like to break into the art world?
K: We all bring a little piece of new to the drawing board. Stay inspired, have something to say, and keep your skills up at all times. It helps have an insatiable desire to learn and the ability to take constructive criticism. It’s a privilege to be an artist, and not to be taken lightly. Be a good one. Oh, and make arty friends. Artists totally need a support group, especially if you’re working isolated at home.
E: Do you have a web presence?
K: I do, though I really have to update my personal website (it’s on the list.) You can find more of my work at My graphic novel also has a website, you can check that out at
Kimberly Dwinell
And here's Scarlett on her mare Delilah, one more time. Thank you, Kim! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In Which I Discuss New York

Me (Grown-Up Version): Describe your fantasy trip to New York City.
Me (12-Year Old Version): I would fly to New York all by myself. I'd pack light but I'd somehow manage to fit four pairs of shoes into one small bag. I'd land and I'd take the subway into the City.

Me (12 Years Old): My first glance of the skyscrapers would be after emerging from the bowels of the city, into a blue afternoon with gleaming glass buildings all around. I'd crane my neck to see their summits.

Me (12 Years Old): Even though I'd never been there before, the city would open to me, full of smiles and love and friends new and old.

Me (12 Years Old): I'd visit Central Park.

Me (12 Years Old): Then I'd go to Random House. And they'd actually KNOW who I AM. They'd be expecting me.

Me (12 Years Old): I'd meet my editor. I'd meet the people that designed my books. I'd be a writer.

Me (12 Years Old): I'd go to the Museum of Modern Art and see amazing things.

Me (12 Years Old): I'd go out for dinner and drinks with my AMAZING agent. Later, we'd see a show. I'd drink Lambrusco with my agent, in honor of my grandmother.

Me (12 Years Old): It would be the most AMAZING trip ever. I wouldn't get lost. The weather would be gorgeous. The stars would align for me. It would be perfect.

Me (Grown Up): It was perfect.

Monday, September 10, 2012

SACRED art show... first up, Travis Moore!

One of my favorite things about going to college was the year I spent living on Balboa Island. I was an undergraduate at UC Irvine, and the tiny island of Balboa (connected to the mainland by a quaint arched bridge) was just a few miles away from campus. So my friend Wendy suggested we rent one of the cottages for the school year.

These cottages are vacation rentals during the summer, but during the off season--September 1 to June 1--some of them are rented out at a greatly reduced rate, providing that you're out by the time the tourists flock for vacations.

We found a tiny house that looked like a ship, with round porthole windows and a Dutch door. It had two tiny bedrooms, neither big enough for two beds, so bunkbeds it was. Wendy and I shared one room; Travis and Derek shared the other.

I have remained friends with all three of them--Wendy, Travis, and Derek--since graduation. Even though we didn't always agree about dishes and the proper placement of throw pillows, that year was magical.

Part of what made it so magical was watching Travis draw. He drew like some people dance--so naturally, seemingly without effort, in a way that makes everyone else sit up and take notice.

So when my friend Erin O'Shea and I decided to do an art show in conjunction with SACRED's launch, Travis was on the top of my list.

And he's still magical.

Look. Here's his vision of Will Cohen:

I know. So, so gorgeous. Amazing. Travis, thank you!!!

I asked Travis a few questions. Here is what he shared:

E: I think your Will is amazing and perfect. Tell me, how did you arrive at this image?
T: Thanks, Elana! I'm sure you have a very clear picture in your mind of how Will is supposed to look, so knowing that I met your expectations is a relief and an honor. I knew I was going to do a portrait before I even read the book because I love drawing people more than anything and I wanted to focus on the character aspect of your story. Plus I wanted to make your hero look as dreamy as possible! When I sat down to do the piece, I first had to pinpoint exactly what I had in my own head as to how he looks. I'd been watching Teen Wolf and decided that Tyler Posey had Will's hair. Then I went to the internet and looked through pictures of actors to try to narrow down what I thought his facial features should be. Then I started painting. I spent an hour or two on one piece, but wound up not liking it and started over. The do-over became the piece you have now. It has better composition and, I think, is more intense. As Tyra Banks would say, he's "smizing."
E: I agree completely!

E: Lots of your past work has been of superheroes; do you have a favorite hero or heroine?
T: I read one of your interviews where you said that the inspiration for Sacred came from a friend suggesting you write a superhero story. So maybe my favorite superhero is Will! In comics, my all-time favorite superhero is probably Wonder Woman. I've been a fan ever since watching Lynda Carter do her magic twirl back when I was a kid. I also love Spider-Woman because I thinks she's such a complex character with so many outside forces pulling at her. Wiccan and Hulkling of the Young Avengers are my other favorites because I think they're such positive role-models for gay teens. In books, Thom from Perry Moore's Hero is a great character.
E: That makes two of us! Will is my favorite superhero, too!

E:Tell us about how you work.
T: At heart I will always be a sketch artist, so I almost always work with pencil and paper. That being said, this Will portrait is entirely digital from start to finish. It really depends on what I want the end result to be as far as how to approach it. When I draw, I'm usually just trying to express an idea, not creating a finished piece for everyone to look at. The finishing part is kind of like going on autopilot; it's that initial burst at the beginning of the creation process that's the fun part, which is why I don't have a lot of finished work. Most of the art I have floating around in the world has had other hands touching it (inkers, colorists, finishers, etc). This Will piece is a rare instance where I actually did the whole thing.

E: I know you're a writer as well as an artist. Do you think your work as an artist has made it easier or harder for you to describe characters in words?
T: It surprises me how similar the processes of writing and drawing can be. For example, if I'm designing a character for a comic, I have to think about who that character is, what he looks like, how he would stand, gestures he would make, etc, the same as I would in writing the character. I will usually do a sketch exploration of the character to sort of "settle in" to him before taking him to the finished comic book page, the same way I'll often write short stories about characters I want to use in a novel so I can get a feel for who they are, how they speak, and how they react to different situations. I also give some thought to how the words on a page look visually to a reader, how will the eye flow over them. For example, I might make a sentence longer just to create a visual barrier to the big reveal in the next sentence. Can the way the words are arranged create an illusion? I started out a story once with water dripping. Instead of writing, "Drip. Drip. Drip." I wrote:


Because, to me, that "looks" more like dripping water. I think that comes from having a visual arts background.

E: What are you working on now?
T: Currently, I'm writing a novel about a group of teens in a small Oregon town whose high school becomes ground zero for a hostile alien invasion. I'm also working on a collaboration with two other writers, a post-apocalyptic tale where we each take a character through the first year after the end of the world. I have a lot of other projects floating around in the background, too, but I'm not ready to talk about those yet. Stay tuned!
E: I can't wait to read it! I hope I can get my hands on it early... 

E: What advice would you give people who'd like to break into the art world?
T: Network. Nothing gets you in the door faster than the recommendation of someone who's already through it. Also, be aware that breaking in is an ongoing process. I "broke in" to comics four times. Even when you break in, it takes a lot of diligence and, again, maintaining professional relationships, to stay in. And one other thing--never stop learning and growing as an artist. You can never know enough. I think that goes for writers too. They say, write what you know; if that's true, then Know. More.

E: Travis, you've known me a long time, since college. And since I'm in the unique position of getting to interview you, I have to know... what was your first impression of me?
T: Aside from the fact that you're gorgeous? Well, okay, my first memory of you was when we were living in the dorms, and there was a group of us in the common room all playing various forms of solitaire. You walked in and said, "Half a dozen games of solitaire? That's anti-social." We were all like, "Who does this girl think she is?" Hahaha. But now I love that about you. You say what you think and you're completely honest. And funny as hell. And so caring toward the people you love. You're amazing! I'm so proud you're my friend. Oh, one other thing I remember thinking about you back then was, what the heck was that pi sign doing in your name?
E: (Blushes). Aw, thanks, Travis!! (And, more on the mysterious pi sign in another post...)

E: Do you have a web presence?
T: Yes! I'm on Twitter, goodreads, Deviantart, and Pinterest. I'm also working on a website/blog where I'll be posting artwork, short stories, and general musings about art and writing and pop culture. Hey, maybe I can interview you!
E: I can't wait!

Also, Travis shared some of his early sketches and ideas for the Will portrait.

Here's a sketch he started on before deciding to go another direction:

And here are a few screenshots of the final portrait as it progressed:

And one final shot of the final art. Because, come on, he's freaking gorgeous:

Travis, thank you so much for being part of the SACRED art show. I think you are amazing. And your artistic ability makes you a superhero to me!

Friday, September 7, 2012


So, over the next couple of months, in anticipation of SACRED's launch (which will be at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in Redondo Beach, CA, at 7:30 pm on November 13, so mark your calendars!), I'll be showcasing some amazing artwork, all inspired by the characters, setting, and story of SACRED.

I am fortunate to number Erin O'Shea among my friends, and she had the brilliant idea to do an art show in conjunction with SACRED's debut. Her brilliant idea was inspired by the brilliant idea of Sara Wilson Etienne who had an art show in conjunction with the debut of her novel, HARBINGER.

So do check back on Monday when I'll be showcasing the art of a good friend of mine, Travis Moore. Wait until you see his vision of Will!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hello, Brazil!

Exciting news today! I have been interviewed by an awesome Brazilian blogger, Fernanda Freire. You can visit the website here!

I've never been to Brazil before, but it's pretty cool that my book might be read on the beautiful beaches I hope to one day visit.